Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Cutwork Pattern for Hand Embroidery


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Last time I was playing with my whitework embroidery sampler, I was beginning the cutwork motif. Here, I’ve got the pattern for you AND the incredible progress I’ve made on the cutwork motif! How exciting!

Well, I already feel bad about saying that – not a fib; rather an exaggerated jest: I have made very little progress on the cutwork motif. Still, every little bit counts, right?

Here’s the design for you, in case you ever want to use it for cutwork – or for any other kind of embroidery or craft usage, for that matter. You can click on it for a slightly larger image (and a larger file size!).

Free Cutwork Design for Hand Embroidery

And, if you want, here’s a PDF version:

Cutwork Design for Hand Embroidery

You can size the pattern up or down if you want. If you size it up, it may take more time, but you could also work with heavier threads to cover more ground a little faster.

Here’s my progress on the cutwork design so far:

Cutwork Embroidery on my Whitework Sampler

Oh. I know you’re impressed!

Actually, I was debating whether or not I should put progress photos up at all – it practically seems pointless! But, still, there it is!

I transferred the design using the tissue-paper-and-tacking-stitches method, which has worked well so far with this design.

Cutwork Embroidery on my Whitework Sampler

There it is, up close. I was debating about whether or not I would go with fine bars. Sometimes, the attaching bars on cutwork are mere threads, you see… and that lends to a very delicate, lacy look – absolutely beautiful on fine white linen. But given that this fabric is a little coarser than normal (for most fine cutwork, that is), I decided to go with a heavier look on the bars and on the overcasting around the edges of the design.

I plan to get some photo tutorials up on cutwork eventually, once I make a little more progress on this piece.

Now, to step backwards a bit, remember the monogram I set up for the sampler? The plan on that seems to be taking a different direction in my head. Initially, I wanted to do some trailing (which is super-raised satin stitch, over a bunch of cords), but I’m thinking about another technique right now – something… something a bit odd. On the wide parts of the letter, what think you of a raised stem stitch? Or casalguidi? I was kind of thinking it might be fun to do something not-quite-as-typical-of-whitework, and with a bit of texture. Anyway, that idea’s ripening right now. We’ll see what it develops into… If I keep plugging away at the cutwork, it’ll have plenty of time to ripen, that’s certain!

Funny thing is, while I was working the bars in that tiny bit there, I had the sudden desire to finish up the Schwalm pomegranate right below the cutwork motif. If I had students bouncing around like this, I’d tell them to settle down, take a deep breath, and FOCUS! Physician, heal thyself!

I suppose the next time we come back to the whitework sampler, we’ll all be surprised at what transpired!

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(16) Comments

  1. Oh Mary, thanks so much for sharing this pattern and the picture of the progress as well !

    This information has come at the right time for me.
    My family and I just came back from a trip to Spain.
    There I had the chance to see a beautiful variety of hand embroidered items/goods and cutwork caught my attention like never before.
    So I started searching for info and online patterns for cutwork with very little success until I came to visit your blog !
    Please keep us up to date with the progress of this project !
    I will give it a try… but I’m thinking I will choose only a small part of the design, since I am brand new at this type of work.
    Just a little ? before I go to make sure I got it …
    I need to outline the area of the design I’m using with back stitch or running stitch … on the exact lines of the patterns or inside the lines and then cover the outer lines with the bottom hole stitch ?

    Thanks Again, and I will be checking back !

  2. Hi, Monika –

    Actually, I’m using overcast stitch, which is easier if you’re working on a small design (On my fabric, the design is about 4 inches high). Yes, outline with running stitch – I outline right on the lines – then overcast or buttonhole over the outlines, working in the bars first. When you do the bars, you don’t pass through the fabric, but when you outline the fabric areas, you do pass through the fabric. Once the stitching is done, you carefully (carefully… really carefully…) cut away the fabric behind the bars.

    Good luck! Good idea to take just a bit o’ the design. Wish I had. Heh heh.


  3. Oh, the design is gorgeous. Thank you for sharing. I’ll have to track down the book you mentioned to me on Twitter… I love cutwork and have, strangely, since I fell in love with a Lenox china ornament with lacy edges.

  4. This will make a great Romanian Point Lace piece too! I couldn’t get the pdf file to open but I’ll try again later.

  5. Hi Mary, this looks lovely. I found another half completed project yesterday – a beginners Hardanger doily. *sigh* Wedgewood blue on Wedgwood blue.

    Question: would it be possible to do a Celtic letter in cutwork? I would love to try cutwork, but want something small to start with.

    re: twitter – I am ForestMaid if anyone wants to add me.

  6. Mary, fabulous pattern!!! I can’t wait to see the cutwork finished.

    I took a class with cutwork in it a while back and we used cuticle scissors to cut away the fabric. We did all of our stitching with buttonhole and you sort held the rounded edge of the scissors along the buttonhole ‘loops’ and cut away the unneeded fabric. Since the points of the scissors were pointing away from the fabric it seemed easier to me than using straight scissors.

  7. Mary, Thanks so much for replying !
    I will be busy with this over the weekend, once I finish will let you know 😉 !

  8. hey mary

    i love this!!!. im currently working on a new project…(yayyy) project number two!!! i have to send you the picture of the finished project, so proud of myself if i do say..hahahha. i am currently creating a name design with flowers for a friend. i would like to work some cutwork into the design. does the cutwork have to be done with bars? . cuz the vines of the flower intertwine and i would like to cutout the negative space especially since the space is not square. thought would give it a good cool look rather than have to leave it blank or filled with solid color.

    so could you please council me on how i could do that with out nessicarily having to use bars or any other way u can think of.

    once again thank you so much for sharing your wealth of knowledge with me. 🙂

  9. Mary ,it’s FAR from “practically pointless” to put up progress…it’s so much easier to learn and absorb a new technique in small snippets…if you showed my the finished piece I’d probably be far too daunted!Thanks!Charlie.

  10. I am reporting back on my attempt at cutwork…
    🙁 … I'm sad to say that it didn't go very well (even though was only working on a very small part of the design). I will once more give it a try sometime before the end of the year. I guess I felt a little over confident by imagining that it was going to be easier than what it really was (at least for me).
    Thanks so much for all the advice,tips and help you provide through your blog !

  11. hy mery your work is so gud i am really interested in this work and i also have and use alot of designs according to my own idea but now i wants to creat something new with your help plz

  12. Dear Mary I am stuck in hospital with a fractured pelvis and broken leg and I have gone through your site from beginning to end. thank you for what you do for all of us. I know the time and effort that goes into what you do and I am so grateful . It is a joy to see you work and learn from it. Keep up the good work, it is an inspiration to all of us.

  13. I have seen a tablecloth of cutwork daisies. I really want to make this for my daughter but am having no luck finding a pattern. I am not talented enough to make one myself. Do you have any idea where I might find this? Thank you for reading my question.

  14. I have just discovered your site and have had a lovely time flicking from one section to another. I have downloaded your pdf pattern for Cutwork No.1. Thank you. I’ve been going to give cutwork a go for quite a while. Now I will be able to follow-along as you post more to your blogs. cheers Kathryn (Western Australia)

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